<aside> ✨ Assignment for ENGL 10503: Anarchist Nonfiction Across Genres
“A critique of the charity model is that it’s designed to keep poor people poor and dependent on wealthy benefactors who get to feel good about themselves. Mutual aid, in contrast, is about the collective redistribution of resources and creating interdependence. The practice of people having one another’s backs when they’ve been cut off from formal avenues of support has been a way of life for Black, Indigenous, brown, and immigrant communities in the U.S. since forever. The examples of mutual aid are myriad—from the Black Panthers’ Free Breakfast program that fed more than 20,000 children in its first year in 1969, to the Puerto Rican Young Lords bringing tuberculosis testing to East Harlem and the Bronx in the early 1970s…” —Jenny Zhang, “Mutual Aid Groups Supported Communities When the Government Wouldn't”
This group project asks you to work alongside a few of your classmates to identify a problem (or interlocking set of problems) in your community and propose a hypothetical mutual aid project aimed at ameliorating the problem. How could you address this problem in a way that builds solidarity in the community (instead of providing charity within a hierarchical framework)?
I encourage you, in your groups, to think creatively about how to define a community problem or need and how to address it.
Groups will be responsible for turning in multiple documents as the project progresses, representing successive stages of planning, research, and proposing solutions. On the day the final proposal is due, groups will also be responsible for informally presenting their project in class. See below for guidelines and due dates.
As a group, discuss how work will be distributed, how decisions will be made, and what will be expected of each group member in terms of workload and communication. Create and submit written guidelines for what constitutes full participation, partial participation, and lack of participation.
Identify and research one existing mutual aid project (not a charity). What does the project do; what problem or need does it seek to address? Who participates? How is it organized? What are the values underpinning the project? How is it different from a charity? Include citations for all outside research material incorporated.
Think about the various communities to which you and your groupmates belong. You are all TCU students, as well as residents of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, and Texas (at least part-time). You will also belong to other communities, depending on your gender, race, religion, hobbies and interests, family situations, etc. Identify and do a bit of research on a social or economic problem faced by one of these communities (not all group members have to belong to the community chosen). How does the problem or need present itself? What is missing that would solve this problem? What areas of community or individual life are impacted by this problem? Include citations for all outside research material incorporated.
Looking back at your research, propose a mutual aid project that would help alleviate the community problem or need that you identified. Make this proposal as detailed as possible. Who will participate? How many people would the project incorporate and serve? What infrastructure or supplies are needed? What challenges or roadblocks might the project face, and how could these be overcome? How would participants know that the project had been implemented successfully? How would this project fit the criteria for mutual aid? How would it be different from a charity project? What values would underpin the project?
(Please plan to informally present your group’s project in class on this day)